This is how I feel when I’ve organised a big event or party. Just as I finally get to relax and enjoy it, after all of the stress of bringing it to life it’s over.
I can honestly say that from a wobbly start to now I really am loving my placement. I love the teaching of course but I love the feeling of being ‘one of them’ again. Of understanding the lingo, of feeling confident enough to help out or volunteer, to just want to do as much as I can before it’s too late and the placement is over.
I’ve gone from being disillusioned to being thirsty for more and I must say that’s largely due to my experience having been a real one. I don’t think there’s been any glossing over of how tough teaching can be. Once upon a time I might have actually wanted to hear how amazing it all was, because that’s what I imagined it to be. I would have had a rude awakening when I start work as a teacher if I’d been shielded from or had deprived myself of exposure to the trials and tribulations of the role.
I’m glad that everyone on my placement has kept it real and balanced it out because of course it is not all trial and tribulation it has some significant highs and I’ve seen plenty of them too. I already know how it feels when something as microscopic as a student coming into class and smiling at you feels and the good bits only get better from there.
I’m getting a bit reflective now about my placement in an overall way, not just picking on the little things to make sense of, but the whole experience. That’s because I’m mindful of the fact that it’s coming to an end. It’s still got a way to go but it’s winding down now and after Easter there will only be a few weeks left of teaching and that’s it. Done. Another experience in the bag and a whole heap of lessons learned. Gosh I think I’ll look back on this period of my life and cringe at the school boy (or college girl) errors I made but that’s all part of the whole really.
It’s been a great experience, it’s taught me more about myself, more about teaching, more about other people and it’s just enabled me to grow in yet another direction. Don’t expect your placement to just allow you a chance to practice what you’re learning, it’s more than that. I approached it like that and I was so wrong to do so.
If you’re on a placement and feel you’re not getting enough out of it I’d urge you to push yourself forward and make opportunities and get what you want out of it, it’s up to you.
If you’re thinking of teacher training or teaching I’d really advise you to throw yourself into it and not make the mistakes I did by holding back in the beginning and just immersing yourself into the whole fabric of teaching. You will be around many people who all have something different and something new to add to the mix, a different perspective on something, a different history, a different skill or different knowledge and experience to throw in. It will all make you a better teacher and it will all help to keep your placement experience real and give you the fuller picture on teaching as a profession.
It really isn’t all 12 weeks holiday and 3pm finishes and it’s not about developing a set of lessons at the beginning of the year and never doing any lesson prep again, it’s not about coffee and cake in the staff room and team nights out and whole afternoons where you can plan for next week and others where you catch up on your paperwork. That’s not it at all and if your placement doesn’t teach you that then it’s done you a disservice because it really should show you the warts and all elements of teaching. How else can it prepare you for life as a teacher if it doesn’t?
I’ve been lucky and as much as I’m sad that it’s coming to an end I’m glad that I had the placement opportunity I’ve got and I’m grateful for everyone who has shared and continues to share their knowledge and expertise with me.
Another thing… ask questions! If you don’t understand something, there are lots of acronyms as in any professional setting, just ask. If you still don’t understand what it means, ask for it to be explained, if it’s a role you don’t understand ask what it entails, find out as much as you can now because when you get your first job it will all feel so much better if you are familiar with the language and the different roles. They’re just a few things that you already understand and which will make you first job easier to become accustomed to and besides that it will add to your own air and sense of professionalism if you understand the jargon.
I want to squeeze every last opportunity I can out of my placement and I’d advise anyone in the same position or who is heading in the same direction next year to do the same. It’s the only chance you’re going to get to really be the absolute newbie, where expectations on you are going to be less heavy than they will be in your paid roles and where opportunities for you to learn and grow are all around you and you have the time and energy to take advantage of them.